MOIRA EKDAHL AND SYLVIA ZUBKE, EDITORS BC Contributors: School District #39 Teacher-librarians in School Districts #8, 23, 36, 39, 57, 73 Elementary and Secondary Teacher‐Librarians First published: May 2014, updated by Heather Daly in May 2017 Today’s students learn in a dynamic world where information changes and expands as fast as technological innovation. As information grows exponentially in multiple formats, learners are challenged to think critically, search effectively, construct meaning and learning products ethically, and choose from amongst a vast array of resources, tools, and services in order to create possibilities for shaping and sharing new knowledge. — American Association of School Librarians

School library programs continue to undergo momentous changes that have heightened the importance of technology and evidence-based learning. The focus has moved from the library as a confined space to one with fluid boundaries that is layered by diverse needs and influenced by an interactive global community. Guiding principles ... must focus on building a flexible learning environment with the goal of producing successful learners skilled in multiple literacies. — American Association of School Librarians

TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 3 Moving Toward A Library Learning Commons: The Concept 4 Performance Standards: One Way To Look At This 6 Checkpoint! 7 Core Value: Access 8 Core Value: Student Success 9 The Pro-Active Model For School-Wide Change 10 Professional Capital 11 The LLC As A Project; The LLC As A Process 12 Program: The Library Learning Commons 13 Program: The Virtual Learning Commons 14 Start The Shift: There Are Multiple Points Of Entry 15 TL Narratives: The Elementary LLC Experience 16 TL Narratives: The Secondary LLC Experience 20 District Narratives: The LLC Experience In Surrey And Prince George 27 Appendix 1: Instructional Role Of The Teacher-Librarian In The Library Learning Commons 28 References And Additional Readings 29 Acknowledgments 31 Furthermore 32

2 FROM TO LIBRARY LEARNING COMMONS: A PRO·ACTIVE MODEL FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE This document summarizes in part the work, over three years, of two groups of Vancouver teacher- librarians—one elementary and the other secondary—engaged in teacher inquiry. The inquiry groups have described, in both personal and professional terms, the continuum of change by which a school library becomes a Library Learning Commons in (BC). They have been joined by voices of TLs throughout BC who have successfully undertaken similar initiatives. THE INQUIRY QUESTION: WHEN AND HOW DOES A SCHOOL LIBRARY BECOME A LIBRARY LEARNING COMMONS?


While every Library Learning Commons is a school library, not every both physical and virtual resources. It promotes a culture of reading, school library is ready to be called a Library Learning Commons. literacy, and technology integration. The LLC offers print and digital A Library Learning Commons (LLC) is more than a school library collections that support multiple literacy levels, abilities, learning in that it grows to become the busy hub of the school. It is a place styles, and curricula. In fostering a love of reading, the TL helps where student success is the highest priority, and learning objectives students understand and appreciate these collections. are ambitiously pursued through collaboration between teacher- Rather than expecting members of the school to “hush” when librarians, teachers, and students. The transformation of a school inside the new library space, the LLC hums with collaboration and library into an LLC is one example of how a school can actively participation. At the same time, it offers both social and quiet address goals of change in response to new kinds of teaching and spaces to accommodate different learning needs. The LLC is a learning. This transformation is driven by teacher-librarian (TL) flexible space, and can meet the needs of individuals, groups, and staff with an innovative vision for teaching and an advisory council classes; often simultaneously. Enter the LLC and you will witness of students, teachers, and parents. much activity—from reading and computer usage to academic The LLC strives to empower students to be inquiring citizens and presentations and art performances. Overall, the LLC is constantly lifelong learners. As such, the LLC must provide a safe and welcoming adapting to new learning needs and new technologies. space. It values and enforces inclusiveness and equitable access to


WHAT IS A LIBRARY THE LLC AND THE LEARNING COMMONS TL STRIVE TO: • Have an impact on teaching and learning in (LLC)? the school. Several important themes underpin teaching and learning in the context of an LLC model: • Be the hub of the school, centrally located, and open for class bookings. • Technology has had a dramatic effect. • Enrich learning by providing expertise in • Learning needs to be personal and meaningful. collaboratively designing and assessing learning and • Inquiry forms the basis for authentic and lifelong in promoting the love of reading. learning. • Work with teachers to co-design learning based on • Collaboration is required of all learners; that is, inquiry and to provide the contexts for creating new, amongst teacher-librarians, teachers, and students. original, and inspired content. • Provide balanced, rich, diverse, current, and THE GENESIS OF A LIBRARY professionally curated collections of print and digital LEARNING COMMONS IS THE resources that support multiple literacies and the BC curriculum. SCHOOL LIBRARY PROGRAM, BUT OTHER FACTORS ARE ALSO • Support students and teachers as they integrate technology with teaching and learning and as they IMPERATIVE: increasingly access information with a 24/7 Virtual • A teacher-librarian (TL) with a vision for teaching and Learning Commons. learning transformed by new possibilities. • Support goals for learning that are based on • A school community open to new ways of working current research, unique needs, and well-designed, together to enhance student learning. purposeful, and powerful intentions. • A shared valuing of opportunities for informed • Provide a learning environment that is welcoming, professional discourse. safe, and engaging; where the old sense of “hush” • Shared understanding of the role of a qualified TL has been replaced by a new “hub” role and a constant and the concepts that underpin the K-12 learning “hum” of activity. It is a busy place with a “yes, we commons approach. can” attitude from opening to closing. • Funding. • A supportive administrator.

If you set out to build a Library Learning Commons and it didn’t make a difference to the learning or have an impact on teaching, it is not a Learning Commons! – Sylvia Zubke, Inquiry Conversations, May 2014


Embracing a Library Learning Commons model means being A LIBRARY LEARNING responsive to diverse needs; it requires shared vision and determination. Indeed, this is true of all inspired educational COMMONS (LLC): change: • Begins within a responsive and dynamic school library program. We must take the more vertiginous route that • Is dedicated to student-centred learning because successful scales the heights of professional excellence and learners are empowered citizens. public democracy. For it is this truly challenging • Produces enhanced student engagement and success. path that will lead us to the peaks of excellence • Requires funding because it represents a significant school and integrity in student learning and its and district investment of time, energy, resources, services, resulting high levels of achievement. tools, and shared expertise. • Is a real and virtual space that is managed by the TL and – Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley, 2009 that enables access to tools, resources, and services. • Provides access that is physical, virtual, intellectual, socio- economic, and equitable. • Is a welcoming, safe, open, and supportive place that values mobility and flexibility of design both within the space and in the opportunities for learning. • Is unique in its attention to the particular learning needs of its educational community. • Is aligned with provincial, district, and school goals for curriculum and with 21st century teaching and learning. • Is a never-ending project, always “in beta”, as new resources, ideas, and tools differently enable the learning. • Is embedded in a culture of collaboration. • Participates in and encourages participation in the culture of the school. • Engages in a collaborative, self-renewing, and recursive process guided by the professional expertise of the TL. • Is a program that is grounded in the shared understanding that meaningful and important educational change occurs when there is professional commitment to innovative practice and collaborative implementation of new designs for learning.



Space created by others. Shelves can’t be moved. Shelves can be moved Shelves and furniture can PHYSICAL No program. A room with No virtual presence. with effort. Clearly be easily moved. Multiple AND VIRTUAL books. Limited to book defined sections are spaces for reading SPACE exchanges. present. Library website and collaborative or exists. Multimedia is independent work. available. Virtual access 24/7. Computers, if any, are Computers may be related Variety of tools and Technology and media TECHNOLOGY used independently to library functions; few if devices are available, are an intrinsic part of a of library staff as in a any other devices. used as required to serve dynamic and responsive computer lab. program needs. teaching and learning program. Limited supervision by Classes are scheduled; Classes and individuals Students, staff and ACCESS a clerk, like a cafeteria. library closed to others usually have access when parents have access Often closed. Books may during class. Collection there is a TL available. to a qualified TL and to not be tracked. shows lack of funding. Collections are well- resources during and organized and building. after the instructional day. 24/7 access to the Virtual Learning Commons. None. Few if any learning Administrators, teachers, All members of the LEARNING partnerships. No program TLs, and sometimes learning community work PARTNERSHIPS as such. community partners together to build virtual collaborate to advance and physical learning student learning. partnerships in the LLC. These are global, connected, social, cross- curricular and complex. Little or no allocation of Part-time TL with Sufficient qualified or Sufficient qualified STAFFING professional staffing. sufficient time only to do qualifying staffing to staffing to enable pre-set book exchanges. enable program and outreach, collaborative collection development. planning, co-teaching, and creation and maintenance of the Virtual Learning Commons.

6 FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY TO LIBRARY LEARNING COMMONS: A PRO·ACTIVE MODEL FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE CHECKPOINT! Before you invest time and money in upgrading a school library to a Library Learning Commons (LLC), planning for change will ensure success. If a number of the descriptors are not checked, then there is work to be done in your school library. With most checked, you are ready to proceed.

STAFFING AND STAFF RELATIONSHIPS COLLABORATIVE CULTURE o The school has a school library program and a teacher-librarian (TL) o The administrator is key to the collaborative culture of a school; who will work with a team to plan and implement the LLC project. LLC culture begins with the support of the administrative team for o The allocation of TL staffing to the LLC is sufficient to enable the the development of teaching and learning partnerships. growth of an LLC program. o The TL builds and cultivates learning partnerships amongst staff, o The TL has engaged with colleagues to create a flexible, dynamic, students, and parents, and extends these partnerships to both local and collaborative inquiry-based school library program. and global communities. o Staff and students place value on being a collaborative community; ACCESS the LLC is both a key to this and a reflection of this. o Students, parents, and staff have equitable access to a qualified TL and resources and space in the LLC before, during, and after the TECHNOLOGY instructional day. o Students and staff have sufficient and equitable access to current o The learning community has access 24/7 to what will be the Virtual production and presentation hardware and software to enable Learning Commons. technology integration with teaching and learning in the LLC. o The TL assists the learning community with the changing o Technology is understood to be a tool that enables learning, formats of resources, helping them to acquire skills and connection, creativity, construction of meaning, and knowledge knowledge about ethical and effective use as well as equitable production. physical or virtual access. o The TL is a member of the school’s technology committee. o The TL is knowledgeable about the automated library management o The technology committee understands that an adequately and system; district collections, codes and passwords; subscriptions professionally staffed LLC is the most equitable site in the school and licenses; terms of use, copyright and privacy laws; information for access to technology. ethics and academic honesty; and information and other literacies. o The technology committee, guided by the TL, prioritizes access to a o The TL provides access to resources that are current, diverse, range of technologies in the LLC, including students’ own devices. and complex and that are available in multiple formats, and for o The TL ensures students and staff are responsible users who are different learning styles and abilities and purposes. technology literate and media aware. o Criteria for the TL’s selection of resources are grounded in his or her understanding of the needs of the school and its culture, the BC INFRASTRUCTURE curriculum, and Canadian culture. o o The TL and the LLC are included in all plans for literacy The facility has robust internet access and good technical support. o development; reading is foundational for student success, and It has sufficient electrical outlets on different circuits. o students like to read books that they have chosen from a wide Tables and chairs are easy to move and to reconfigure to provide range of quality literature and information books. workspaces for individuals, small groups, and whole classes. o There are comfortable seating spaces for quiet reading, story-time, and shared reading. ST 21 CENTURY TEACHING AND o There is a flexible presentation space in one or more instructional LEARNING areas that have computer access. o The administrator recognizes that investing in an LLC is an o The TL has undertaken a thorough assessment and weeded the investment in 21st century learning and in student achievement. existing print collection in order to reduce its footprint and increase o The TL has successfully made the case to staff that transforming instructional capacity. the school library into an LLC requires additional funding. o The retained collections and on-going selection of resources o The TL works collaboratively with teachers to promote and support support the school’s unique local learning needs, the provincial technology-rich resource-based and inquiry-based teaching and curriculum, Canadian culture, students’ reading interests and learning. abilities, and students’ development of an expanding worldview. o The TL is encouraged to participate as a professional in the learning community; from the unique view inside the learning commons, the TL shares responsibility for assessment of behaviour and learning. o The LLC provides a variety of professional development opportunities and resources; the TL provides a context and content for professional and pedagogical conversations.


• ACCESS TO RESOURCES is ensured when a teacher- ACCESS IS KEY TO librarian is provided with sufficient time to provide service by: CREATING A LIBRARY – Selecting, managing, curating, and promoting a variety of print and digital collections. LEARNING COMMONS – Building and maintaining a Virtual Learning Commons that The notion of access needs to be deconstructed to reveal its is available 24/7. complexity: access encompasses physical, intellectual, real, virtual, socio-economic, and cultural access, and other dimensions. In – Being open and available to ensure that students its capacity to empower young learners to be inquiring citizens understand and appreciate the differentiated, rich, and lifelong learners, such access is both extremely personal and and diverse collections. significantly political. • ACCESS TO EXPERTISE includes (but is not limited Furthermore, at its most political level, ensuring access to the LLC to) the services of a qualified teacher-librarian who has good is the most democratic and cost-effective investment of scarce technical and technological support and who is enabled by educational funding, staffing, technologies, and resources. Here, sufficient staffing to: in an LLC, when staffing is sufficient, service-oriented, flexibly – Plan, work, and teach collaboratively with other teachers, scheduled, qualified, and thus accessible, the entire educational support staff, and experts in the community. community is welcomed and supported. Rather than competing for scarce resources, staffing, and funding, the LLC is a place where – Co-create and implement technology-enhanced, inquiry- these are optimally shared. based, innovative, and creative learning opportunities. Principles of equity of access ensure that all students and other – Ensure a culture of “yes, we can” and a vigilant practice members of the learning community, with different abilities, of inclusion. interests, and backgrounds, of diverse social groups, and with a full • ACCESS TO TOOLS AND RESOURCES for learning range of learning, informational, reading, technological and digital is provided by a qualified teacher-librarian to: skills, interests, and needs, are able to access appropriate resources, expertise, and tools. – Digital tools, like databases, ebooks, subscriptions, software and educational applications, printers, scanners, cameras, and new/emerging technologies and devices. – Print sources such as books, magazines, and reference “What a school thinks about its materials. – Opportunities for students to receive professional support library is a measure of what it for intellectual access. feels about education.” – Harold Howe, former US Commissioner of Education, 1967


A Library Learning Commons is a program first, one that occupies AT THE HEART OF IT ALL IS both real and virtual spaces. An Advisory Team of students and other learning community members is a key component. The STUDENT SUCCESS LLC has multiple uses and features furnishings that can be In a Library Learning Commons, the program is constructed around reconfigured to meet, often simultaneously, the learning needs of themes of inquiry, knowledge construction, meaning making, and groups, individuals, and classes. It is energized by exploration; it is original content creation; the themes are underpinned by designs welcoming and central to learning in the school. The old “NO” (Ø) for learning that feature: signs are gone. • Lively and current fiction and non-fiction collections. The physical space is flexibly managed and booked by the teacher- • The integration of technology. librarian, who places value on the real conversation about how best to support the students as an important relationship-building • Diversity, differentiation, and inclusiveness. opportunity. Virtual services extend, enhance, and enrich the physical • Collaboration amongst students, teachers, teacher-librarians, program; they do not replace it. The virtual space is managed, and experts from the community. curated, and made accessible by the teacher-librarian. It is developed collaboratively. • Innovation, creativity, and exploration of new information and ideas and, importantly, new ways of teaching and learning. In a Library Learning Commons, everyone is a learner, including the teacher-librarian; everyone benefits from opportunities to engage • Assessment that is qualitative, formative, and worthwhile. in meaningful conversations about reading and inquiry, teaching, • Evidence of engagement with teaching and learning, a “buzz” and learning. Students, teachers, parents, administrators, and of activity that may include such concurrent activities as community members gain their own “star status” when they enter reading, quiet study, the use of computers and other devices, the Library Learning Commons. presentations and performances, group work, whole-class A willingness and ability to embrace these themes is central to the instruction, and professional conversations. process of moving forward along the continuum from a school library to a Library Learning Commons.

“The feel of the Library Learning Commons is one of busy-ness: teaching and learning happen here! It’s about ‘hum’ and ‘hub’, not ‘hush’!” – Moira Ekdahl, BCTLA Executive meeting, April 2012






© BCTLA Source: Forgeron et al, LLC: A Secondary Perspective PROGRAM Shifting To A Library Learning Commons: A Blueprint For Pro-Active Systemic Educational Change

Goals for change are aligned with evidence from current research A PROCESS: The architects of the project, whether district, and with school, district, and provincial goals. The shift is an whole school or library-based, recognize that the transformation integrated and active one, driven by the PROs and by a team, under is a never-ending process of renewal, does not happen overnight, the direction of a TL, that includes in its vision an understanding and is more than refurbishing a space. that the shift incorporates these five aspects: A PROGRAM: The district, school or learning commons project PROFESSIONAL CAPITAL: Throughout the project, there is intends to explore and build new technologies, resources, and a dual focus both on new and innovative practice and on the roles methodologies into instruction, with a focus on inquiry, innovation, and powerful professional relationships that foster innovation, build and access. trust, and encourage success. THE PRODUCT: Student success is the clear and intended A PROJECT: It begins as a project driven from within a school outcome of the project, the developing program, and the professional library program or as part of a district or school-wide project. Such focus on shared understandings and best practices. projects need to have “grassroots” grounding and, as the impetus, a transparent intention to transform teaching and learning.


The role of a teacher-librarian should be clearly PRACTICE AND BEST defined to include instruction (i.e., literacy PRACTICES and reading promotion, inquiry-centred and Teachers and staff work, read, meet, and engage in professional resource-based), library management, school- conversations about practice and collaborate for teaching and wide leadership and collaboration, community learning. In utilizing the LLC as a site for sharing best and new engagement, and promotion of library services. practices, teachers recognize that: • The TL, as an active participant in the school community, is a nd – IFLA School Library Guidelines 2 ed. teacher whose leadership is integral to on-going professional development: – This includes the culture of reading, literacy, technology A CULTURE OF integration; differentiation of and equitable access to COLLABORATION resources; ethical and effective access to resources; inquiry-based reading and learning; assessment, etc. The teacher-librarian works with other professionals in the community to create and manage a program that is open and accessible; dynamic, • Just as TL staffing is the key to building and maintaining any innovative, and creative; welcoming and safe. Collegial relationships successful school library program, so professional staffing and collaboration are essential to program growth. is essential to transforming such a program into a Library Learning Commons program; therefore, teachers would not The TL values and encourages teacher participation in program assume the duties of the TL nor would they use the services of design; the TL is a teacher who: a volunteer or any other person assigned to do the work (BCTF • With the Advisory Team, establishes and regularly reviews Members’ Guide, 3.P.02). protocols for effective and respectful negotiated use of time • Time is spent with the TL as an expert participant in designing and the space; the protocols are shared with and shaped by learning and in working with classes to integrate multiple the community. resources and technologies into inquiry-based learning. • Grounds collegial relationships in trust and expects to have • Collaborations include conversations about new ideas, time and opportunities to engage with teachers in collaborative innovation, and current research into practice, as well as curriculum and program development, networking, teacher exploration and assessment of new practices. inquiry, research, and other professional activities. • Professional conversations about the implementation of • Is a respected teacher whose work to build and enable LLC co-designed practices and projects address: program development is recognized as an essential and driving support for teaching and learning, and an important extension – The unique learning of students: inclusion, diversity, of learning for every classroom, teacher, and student. differentiation, adaptations, multiple literacies, etc. • Is strongly supported by a visionary administrator; sufficient – Resources and tools: seamless, appropriate, and ethical staffing gives capacity to “grow” the LLC program; sufficient use of technologies, evaluation of resources, etc. funding sustains acquisition of resources and technologies – Assessment of and for learning: scaffolding the learning of driving the program; value is placed on the role of the TL in some, as well as considering and reviewing the progress of building a school’s collaborative and participatory culture. students’ inquiries, constructions, and creations, etc. • Is similarly supported by parents, frequent users of the space who share in enacting school goals for teaching, learning, and student success.

How are collaborative communities established? They do not just happen. Someone must lead the move …. Teacher-librarians need to view the concept of collaboration in its largest scope, beyond simple collaboration between the teacher-librarian and individual teachers of grade-level groups to school-wide acceptance of collaboration with the teacher-librarian as a natural and obvious practice. – Joy McGregor, 2003

BRITISH COLUMBIA TEACHER-LIBRARIANS’ ASSOCIATION 11 THE LLC AS A PROJECT THE LLC AS A PROCESS The LLC Project begins in one of three ways; as a response to: All participants in planning the project understand that transformation is more than simply refurbishing the space; 1. A school-initiated focus on examining many aspects of it includes committing to, planning, and implementing long- current practices. term plans for: 2. A district-initiated focus involving schools possibly • Professional development that focuses on and provides networked together. sufficient time for learning collaboratively about new 3. A teacher-librarian-initiated effort based on research and technologies, integrating technology with teaching changes in school library practices. and learning, re/inspiring the culture of reading, using The key features of the Project­—district, school-wide or school resource-based and inquiry approaches to learning, and library-based—include a teacher-librarian and: experimenting with innovative teaching and assessment practices. 1. A collaborative and participatory school culture. • New, more flexible designs of the space that are 2. A shared vision for change, an important piece of which shaped around multiple uses and the learning needs of is the transformation of a dynamic and responsive school individuals, groups, or classes: designs that are informed library program into a learning commons. by research and visits to LLC sites. 3. An assessment of the unique learning needs of the school • A timeline and a budget, as well as a plan for scouting out, and the community. applying for, and securing additional funding. 4. A common understanding about the nature of educational To facilitate the process of planning, the TL (assisted by district change and the role and potential of an LLC in and other school library and facilities experts), undertakes transforming teaching and learning. assessments of, and makes recommendations for, changes, 5. An Advisory Team guided by or including the teacher- where needed, in: librarian; the Team is grassroots support in spearheading • The print collections: weeding is important to reduce the change and includes interested teachers, staff, students, print collection footprint and increase the instructional and the administrator, their mandate being to create capacity of the space. active, student-centred, and technology-enhanced learning contexts. • The infrastructure: anticipate the changes; assess the number, distribution, and/or condition of electrical outlets, 6. An agreement to work together to change the ways that lighting, bandwidth, Wi-Fi, storage, paint, flooring, learning opportunities are created and implemented. window coverings, furniture and fittings, such as shelving, Additional dimensions for the project of transforming a school circulation desk, etc.; check catalogues and other LLCs to library into an LLC that the teacher-librarian ensures are create a wish list for furnishings, etc. included: • Digital tools, resources, and emerging technologies: be • Sources of funding and a budget for technologies and sure to include circulation software, and security systems furnishings. as appropriate. • Most importantly, long-term sustained district, administrator, and parent support for LLCs as essential for 21st century learning.


LLC PROGRAM ATTRIBUTES THE LLC SPACE AS The teacher-librarian works with the school community to create and manage a program that is: PROGRAM The program is not severable from the space; form follows function, • OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE: under the management such that the LLC program is designed for new ways of teaching and of qualified TLs, little gets in the way of its being open and learning; it features: available for students to use; the program extends to times when classes are not in session, that is, before, during, and • UP-TO-DATE TECHNOLOGIES that enable after school; it can be booked for after-hours use for related exploration, production, presentation, inquiry, communication, functions, like district workshops, and parent meetings. and creation; there is a multi-media production centre (a “green room”) for viewing, recording, and creating new works; students • DYNAMIC, INNOVATIVE, AND CREATIVE: there can also bring their own technologies. is a tangible busy-ness and constructive feel that is focused on engagement with reading and active learning; play is a feature. • DIFFERENT SPACES intended for students to occupy and configure to their own learning needs, including quiet reading or • WELCOMING AND SAFE: the LLC is a special place study areas and informal social learning areas for individual or in the school; in its “hub” role and location, it attracts and group work. invites teachers, other staff, and students to engage with reading, technology, teaching, learning, and conversations • CENTRES that may at different times be used for reading, about them; while it is often a retreat from busy hallways collaboration, innovation, presentation, research, and making and classrooms, it is a context for working, not a lounge or things. an alternative to the school cafeteria. • CONCURRENT USES, as the space is flexible enough to be reconfigured and to host more than one learning “event” TLs’ PROGRAM VALUES at a time; it is not unusual for things to happen here, like • Collegial relationships and collaboration; connections over human library, art exhibits, small-group music and drama collections (Lankes). performances, speakers, author visits, poetry readings, teacher meetings, etc. • Equity of access: in this place, everyone can be included and is encouraged to participate. • INFRASTRUCTURE DESIGN with improved sightlines, ease of workflow and movement, and greater technological • Responsiveness to community input through the Advisory Team, capacity. surveys, conversations, recommendations, etc. • STUDENTS AND TEACHERS who work in the • Reading, reading, reading; reading improves with reading; environment, as service providers to make things happen, reading improves with access to books; reading anything as consultants to the program, or as independent learners. improves reading; reading is positively correlated with learning success (Krashen). • TEACHERS AND STAFF working, catching up on reading, meeting, engaging in conversations about teaching • Technology integration. and learning; students can see teachers at work here. • Inquiry-based learning (Stripling; see BCTLA’s The Points • OPTIMIZED USE OF SPACE, primarily instructional of Inquiry). and curricular, but also including recreational, extra-curricular, • Shared understanding, shared vision, shared tools and professional, and community-based. resources, shared time, shared expertise; professional development for teachers.

The Points of Inquiry, BCTLA’s guide and framework for inquiry-based learning and inquiry-based reading is a companion document that provides more detailed information about how to develop and advance the school library or LLC program.


THE DIGITAL COLLECTION VLC PROGRAM DESIGN The real and virtual dimensions of the LLC program are essential and The design of the Virtual Learning Commons (VLC) is dynamic; complementary components. Print and online resources and tools that is, it is perpetually evolving and always “in beta”. It is support unique and diverse learning needs, interests, and abilities. co-constructed over time to meet the needs of the program and the school. It is not a computer lab or a one-year project. TLs are teachers who select, manage, and promote the effective use of resources. In selecting resources, TLs apply the same criteria for Elements of the VLC include: both print and digital collections: • The oversight and skills of the TL; value is placed on this • Are they current and capable of being kept current? Are they role and adequate staffing has been provided to enable the relevant? development of the LLC. • Do they have particular authority for the subject matter? • An infrastructure that enables efficient and timely use of Are they credible and reliable? Are they “quality” products? technologies, such as good Wi-Fi access, adequate bandwidth, online platforms, and student dashboards. • Do they reflect or add a fair balance of perspectives? Are they global, local, provincial, Canadian? Are they respectful? • Access to a variety of applications for presentation and creation. • Do they provide coverage of the subject that meets students’ • A variety of technologies and responsive technology support needs, interests, and abilities? from both technicians and the school’s technology teachers who share access with staff and students. • Do they contribute to deeper understandings and meaningful inquiry? That is, do they go beyond information location and recall? Are they readily accessible, affordable, navigable, FEATURES OF THE VLC appropriate, safe, and more? • Students select their own learning tools, products, and environments; their learning is intentionally scaffolded as THE VLC PROGRAM VALUES they learn from “experts” and teach each other. The virtual collections of tools and resources are essential to inquiry • Social media is important as a reflection of the participatory and to 21st century learning; they are accessible 24/7 and they are and connected culture. always integrated seamlessly and simultaneously into resource- • Access is also to blogs, wikis, YouTube, online learning based learning opportunities created in the LLC. communities, book reviews and trailers, help sheets, the district catalogue and its virtual tools and database collections. • Interactivity and collaborative development put students and colleagues into making and creating modes; it reflects the school’s culture of collaboration.

The TL provides instruction as students navigate the web, building their skills in information, digital, media, cultural and other literacies; the TL promotes ethical and responsible digital citizenship.


One of the key findings of the ’s two-year elementary TL inquiry into Library Learning Commons is that there are multiple points of entry into the LLC project. The elementary TLs looked at the educational contexts and experiences in different schools and school that shaped what each TL brought to the conversations. The secondary TL inquiry took a different look at the concept of multiple points of entry, exploring instead, within the Pro-Active model, different ways to enter the transformation project to shift the school library along the continuum to a Library Learning Commons. THE ELEMENTARY TLs’ THE SECONDARY TLs’ CONSIDERATIONS CONSIDERATIONS Each of the members of the elementary TL inquiry group entered into Each of the secondary TLs moved along the continuum in one of the TL inquiry conversations from different personal and professional three ways. points, and from very different schools in unique urban communities. DIFFERENT POINTS OF ENTRY: DIFFERENT JOURNEYS, DIFFERENT The first starting point to create an LLC is a natural evolutionary CONTEXTS: process; start with a successful school library: that is, one built on • A relatively new TL in a very small primary annex library; she had firm foundations of a responsive, dynamic program that a TL has 12 years of experience as a teacher in the school, attended the “grown” for five years or more: same school herself, and knows her school community well. • In place are practices that exemplify long-term respectful • An experienced TL who built a dynamic school library program relationships and a culture of collaboration, requisite resources on Vancouver’s South Side; she had just relocated to a West Side and technologies, and a principal willing to fund and support school where the school library needed a major overhaul. the new project, especially in its focus on student success. • A temporary TL in a large bilingual East Side school; her work • The goal of moving forward is transparent: to have an impact included re-conceptualizing a very small space. on teaching and learning; the impact on the LLC is measurable program growth. • A very experienced TL in a large bilingual West Side school; she is well-known for motivating teachers and other TLs to The second “starting point” is to kick-start the program by integrate technology. renovating the facility; a TL familiar with LLCs begins program creation and assesses the effects over time: • An experienced TL in a mid-size East Side alternative elementary school that doesn’t use textbooks with its multi-age groupings; • The new LLC has a dramatic impact on students who appreciate she had been a classroom teacher in the same school. the renewal and investment in their learning; they use the space; it is a respectful, supportive, and comfortable place to work. • An experienced TL in a school noted for its teacher inquiry into technology integration; her Library Learning Commons was a • The changes have an impact on, and beyond, the district: natural outcome of this school-wide collaborative project. others come to see the physical design. The temporary TL has moved to her own assignment and is building • Within three years of the estimated five-year process, growth is her own LLC with the findings of this inquiry in mind. The primary evident: there is a growing culture of collaboration, interest in annex TL is moving to another school due to declining enrolment; authentic inquiry-based learning and reading; optimal growth she too will build on the inquiry experience. The results are the same depends upon frequent review of the vision and of LLC staffing. for each of the group: they all remain committed to advancing the The first “starting point”, the natural evolution, is evident in the LLC Project. secondary TL narrative by Pat, whereas the second “starting point”, the renovation, can be seen in the narrative contributed by Moira. A third “starting point” for LLCs is well illustrated in the secondary TL narratives by Aaron, Rhea, Michelle, and Martha, all excellent examples of how Surrey, Saanich, and Prince George school districts provided impetus and support.


A group of Vancouver elementary TLs with very different backgrounds undertook, over a period of two years, to meet, discuss, and share their LLC experiences. Each school context is also different. These excerpts reflect common themes in their discussions.

New routines were implemented; set library periods were eliminated ACCESS BY ALANNA WONG and were replaced by daily open book exchange periods and flexible Alanna is an experienced elementary TL who moved to a new school library scheduling for new inquiry possibilities for our students, in 2011. Below are excerpts of her experiences transforming the developed collaboratively with staff. New technology was integrated school library at the new school into an LLC. in any collaborative units planned with staff. I attended regular PAC meetings to promote the library to the parents as a “Library Learning In 2005, I became the full-time TL in a school of 350 students; Commons”. I was fortunate to have the support of the administration for a full- time library position. I had the freedom to develop a library program I started a weekly story time for four special needs students. After at the school as I wished. In 6 years, a vibrant library program was our read-aloud, I introduced the use of iPads for the SSSWs (special achieved with the collaboration of all staff members, including the needs staff assistants) and the students so they could make their gym teacher. Students, staff and parents were using the library own story, using the iPad application called “Puppet Pals”. The before, during and after school hours. The library had become the assistants took photos of their students and proceeded to make “heart” of the school. In addition, the school’s online presence two-scene puppet show stories. The students were focused on was created through the development of the school website, the images of themselves in their simple story and had such fun which included a library web page. recording their voices. They took the iPads back to their class to share with their classmates. The staff assistants reported to me In September 2011, I transferred, as the new TL, to another Vancouver that for the first time, they observed real interactions including some elementary school of 290 students. The library had no clear designated students who took it upon themselves to make another show with the areas for working, story time, reading or quiet space. The previous special needs student. One told me that for the first time her student librarian told me that there had been no inventory done for several made a connection to someone in the class and that she actually years – the collection needed updating and weeding. Collaboration spoke and acknowledged others. It was a breakthrough moment! with staff and their programs was limited to set library periods for primary divisions, and I was unsure of what the library did for the Bringing this back to the Library Learning Commons, I believe that others. There was no integration of technology within the library we need to empower students in the use of technological tools. So program. Very few students came into the library before or after school often we forget that our special needs students can also benefit from hours and there were virtually no parent volunteers for the library. these same tools. In a Library Learning Commons, staff and students are all learners and we learn together. My vision: A vibrant, whole school, collaborative approach to learning for staff, parents and students. I began by building relationships with stakeholders. I shared my vision with the administrator and parents at PAC. I established a schedule for early morning and after STAFFING AND STAFF school access to the library for students and parents. I formed a library monitor club for senior (upper intermediate) students in order RELATIONSHIPS to develop a sense of ownership for the library. I began collaborating with staff. Newer staff members were more interested with this BY KAREN CHOW approach since they were also building relationships in the school. Karen is an experienced teacher and a relatively new TL who, at the time of the inquiry, had worked in her partially open-area annex of 90 Excess furniture was purged and the remaining and new furniture students for more than fourteen years. was re-organized to create designated areas for working, reading, story-time, and a quiet area. With the help of some TLs with expertise Our elementary annex staff began to engage in professional in designs that facilitate workflow and in major collection shifting, dialogues that focused on the book Learning in Safe Schools by Faye we weeded the books and grouped the collections for easier access Brownlie and Judith King. These dialogues affected modifications and locating. Staff, parents, and students said these changes in practise and fostered a more “distributive leadership” approach opened up the space in the library, made it easier to find resources, among staff. and made it more welcoming.

16 FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY TO LIBRARY LEARNING COMMONS: A PRO·ACTIVE MODEL FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE Our readings guided my staff in developing a climate of collaboration I went back to my school and re-arranged my shelves so that they at the annex: were all low enough for students to reach, and I put fewer books on each shelf. I became ruthless, every year weeding the books and You can’t be a team member without being a part of the making a list of every book that hadn’t circulated in my library. If I conversation. You’d just become a technician without reflection, felt unsure about weeding a book, I would put it in a box to see if it and teaching just has to be so much more than that. would be requested. My last World Book encyclopedia set is in my I jumped at the opportunity to leave my half time primary classroom backroom. It is April, and not one person has asked for it— teaching position to take on a full time position as the TL (40%) everyone uses online encyclopedias. and Resource Teacher (60%). This was the first time in many Traditionally, libraries and bookstores have had more non-fiction years that the TL/Resource assignment was full time and, thanks titles than fiction. I have weeded my non-fiction section to equal the to our Brownlie and King readings, the TL was to be included as size of my fiction. I got rid of books where the information is more a member of the school-based team that met twice a month. The current on the internet or from databases. I got rid of books that are staff was clear that the TL had important insights into students’ higher vocabulary but low on visuals. I took the money I would have needs that should be shared; it meant the TL’s help in implementing spent on non-fiction and enhanced my fiction and graphic novel recommendations that supported students was valued. This collections. remarkable shift paved the way for the team teaching and collaboration I do today with every single class in the school. I ask students what they want me to buy, and I buy it. We have an awesome graphic novel and manga section, plus superheroes, Lego, My colleagues have also embraced a “push-in” model of support as Hot Wheels, Dora, Mr. Men, Star Wars, etc. I make sure to buy all the they prefer to have an extra teacher to work with on a particular lesson award-winning books and books recommended by other teacher- or project than having a revolving door of students coming or going from librarians but the collection must reflect the tastes of its clients. Any the classroom. This model fosters collaboration and allows students to time a student, teacher or parent requests a book that I don’t have, have stronger connections to more staff members. The TL position is I put it immediately into my online shopping cart to review before a specialized position and a necessary part of every school staff. I am purchasing. During the summer, teachers email me requests or the viewed as an additional accessible teacher and my colleagues have units they are planning so I can have resources ready for September. also come to view the LLC as an extension of their existing classroom. Thus, a Library Learning Commons in a primary setting: Then I used Scholastic Book Fair certificates to add child-sized seating to the donated big, comfy chairs. They also enabled me to • Includes the physical space of the traditional library (hence, buy a dollhouse, medieval castle, Lego and train tables, as well a “Library Learning Commons”). as carpets. • Is managed by a TL who is a strong leader, effective collaborator, Parents with their pre-schoolers come to the library to read and and mentor who fosters transliteracy; the TL has a unique play with the toys. The local community service organization uses relationship with the staff, students, and parents in the school. our space after school for literacy clubs. UBC uses it once a week • Is utilized as a space for many functions, including collaborative and there’s an after-school computer class on Mondays. I bought a meetings, teacher planning, independent student as well as refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven, kettle, and coffee pot for the small group work; these functions can occur at the same time. library. I even got light, easy-to-move tables for the library, and the • Has strong administrative support; that is, the administrator administrator made sure we had robust Wi-Fi. I have 19 desktop maintains staffing, fosters collaboration between staff computers, a printer, a SMARTboard, projector, headphones, and members, sets a school-wide tone for teamwork, schedules microphones. regular class reviews, and includes the TL as part of school- I would so love to have the glass walls that keep spaces differentiated, based team meetings. but that is not in the budget. Because I cannot differentiate my space well, I accommodate different noise levels at different times. If special education assistants or parents come in to use the computers, they wear headphones or read quietly in the reading corner. If a small group INFRASTRUCTURE needs to meet, I have cleaned out my back room and added a round BY SYLVIA ZUBKE table with 6 chairs. After school, the library is a meeting space and it can get loud. I tolerate it because more and more parents come into the At the time of the inquiry, Sylvia was an experienced elementary space, and I so enjoy the rich conversations that occur. TL working in a school that supported technology learning as well as collaborative and inquiry-based professional development and teaching. When I first saw the Irving K. Barber Learning Commons at UBC, I asked myself, ”How do I adapt the concept of a university Learning Commons to create an elementary school Library Learning Commons?”.

BRITISH COLUMBIA TEACHER-LIBRARIANS’ ASSOCIATION 17 Consider that the product is not the most important thing in an LLC; ST 21 CENTURY LEARNING rather it is the information and literacy skills—the development and synthesis, transfer and deconstruction of ideas—that are the BY CELIA BROGAN primary focus in this common space. Celia was, at the time of this inquiry, a new TL working at a very large East Vancouver dual-language elementary school of more Students may then move their learning to an adjacent makerspace to than 600 students. She has since moved to a dual-language library carry out the next stage of their process. They may come back to the program at a smaller West Side elementary school. LLC during the cycle to rehash/revise aspects of their ideas and then go off somewhere else. “Learning commons”. What are the implications of renaming the library? If we move away from using “library” in favour of using “learning commons”, are we sending a message that the activities and habits of mind associated with a library are outdated and TECHNOLOGY different from those that we expect to see in a learning commons? BY MICHELE FARQUHARSON While renaming the library may facilitate the re-branding of the Michele Farquharson is an experienced TL who has been a member of space, that is, eliminating the stereotype of the strict, “shushy” the Board of Directors for the journal Teacher Librarian for years. She librarian and her quiet, dusty, book-filled haven, it is more likely works at a very large West Side dual-language elementary school. that an elementary school library is already a place where students can come to work on group projects, browse recreational reading Since 2002, The Horizon Report K-12 has been one of the best materials, and use multiple technologies to explore curricular topics indicators for emerging technology trends in education. The and demonstrate their learning. It is a place where teachers come April 2013 shortlist lists twelve technologies, ten top trends and if they want to chat informally about their practice or formally challenges that will significantly impact teaching, learning, and collaborate on a lesson or unit. If these things are not already creative inquiry in global K-12 education in the next 5 years. happening in the school library, changing the name of the space is These include: not going to help; it may renew interest for a while but without the underlying philosophy and framework it can quickly become a free- • BYOD: Bringing your own device allows students to work with for-all or a dead zone. familiar technologies. We have heard about elementary library spaces losing professional • Cloud computing: Students will be encouraged to share staffing and then being renamed as Learning Commons. This is questions or findings with each other. problematic as a learning commons is a complex educational • Mobile learning: Students engage with a type of technology space, tied directly to the ecosystem of the larger school community; that has exploded with the availability of educational and effective management and integration of the learning commons productivity apps, promoting media rich products. into the educational ecosystem requires dedicated expertise and attention. • Online learning, particularly massive open online courses (MOOCs): These are being reshaped to include blended learning The union of library and learning commons ideals is possible when strategies and to provide more personal learning. members of the learning community co-construct the vision of the space and its purpose. We can’t pretend that we’re only changing Teacher-librarians have long understood the personal empowerment the how of teaching. The shift to a Library Learning Commons (LLC) that comes for both educators and students when they are enabled model, especially within a school community, falls within a larger to acquire skills for information literacy, critical thinking, and paradigm shift pedagogically: participating in an LLC is a different participatory learning. As we move forward, our school libraries way of being in a learning community. This is why the program and need to transform to Library Learning Commons to allow our pedagogical shift cannot occur in the library alone. There must be a students to become transliterate. collective will among teachers and administration to reflect on and Sue Thomas has defined transliteracy as: guide collective changes in practice. … the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of A manageable and realistic vision resists the desire to include every platforms, tools, and media from signing and orality through new constructivist innovation. The inclination to overlap concepts handwriting, print, TV, radio, and film, to digital social networks. such as makerspaces and educational technology teaching areas, like computer labs, with the LLC muddies both the understanding While teacher-librarians need not devise more benchmarks or and the administration of the space. The ideal would be that we have learning outcomes, they do need to continually redefine what is adjacent spaces in the school for students to move through a cycle of necessary so that students become transliterate. knowledge exploration and construction. Harold Rheingold, an influential and provocative writer, a forward thinker, and a well-respected teacher of social media, believes that educational institutions must teach students how to think about technology.

18 FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY TO LIBRARY LEARNING COMMONS: A PRO·ACTIVE MODEL FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE In societies that don’t change very much, the duty of the elders, We operate under a distributed leadership model. It isn’t always the duty of the educational institutions, is to pass along what easy. You might not notice at first just how highly collaborative we has been proven to work over the generations. In societies that are. We meet once a week at 7:45 in the morning and have regular change rapidly that doesn’t do any good. You need to teach conversations about who we are, what we think is important, and people how to think. You need to teach them how to recognize where we want to go. We don’t give out letter grades. A majority of trends. You need to teach them how to evaluate. They have to our teachers team-teach. be able to answer the questions: What is the technology going During my fifteen years here as both a teacher and as the teacher- to do for me and what is it going to do to me? Do I need to know librarian, learning has been resource based. For the most part, other how to use it and if so how do I use it in my life? than a few math books, we don’t have textbooks. When working at a His recent book, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, focuses on five school that doesn’t use textbooks, the library truly is the hub of the main areas: managing attention, network awareness, participation, school and a critical part of learning. crap detection, and collaboration. This book is a must-read for I have struggled to understand just what it might mean to transform anyone using the internet. Rheingold has always been a champion our school library into a Library Learning Commons. I realize that it of digital media but feels that, in order to cope with the plethora of includes everything an exemplary school library needs to be, along information and the ability to connect with others, these five areas with an opening up of opportunities for more serendipitous learning must be taught and understood. to occur. I can’t control everything and have to let the space belong For any educator, the managing of children’s attention is paramount. to the community, albeit mediated by me. The ability to consume or create media at any minute can be addicting, At my school, the evolution of the library into a Library Learning therefore, digital mindfulness on the part of our students is mandatory. Commons has been about integrating where we are going with Teacher-librarians recognize the power of participation and online where we have been. While we continue to engage learners using collaboration, as well as the need to be information literate. However, both traditional and digital technologies, in the learning commons the value of network awareness, knowing how and who to connect iteration of the library, the essential or basic goals remain the with and who to follow, needs to be shared with our students, not same. These goals include, but are not limited to, learning to only to benefit their academic understandings but perhaps even more work collaboratively, to learn to access, analyze and synthesize importantly to ignite their personal interests and passions. information, to think critically, and to become problem identifiers and solution finders. It’s still all about learning to learn. The development of transliteracy plays a pivotal role in this because, to function in the world of now and tomorrow, learners need to be able to do all of this COLLABORATIVE CULTURE across multiple formats simultaneously. BY CHERIEE WEICHEL At the time of the inquiry, Cheriee was an experienced TL at an alternative elementary school of 300 students. She had been the TL there for five years and, for ten years prior to that, was a classroom and an ESL support teacher at the same school. What is most obvious at my school is that we organize around multiage classrooms – mostly three grade groupings in each class. Structuring a school with a multiage organization is very different from running split classes. Grouping is more flexible and mostly heterogeneous.

The Learning Commons is the starting point—it’s the nerve centre of the school, the place where learning isn’t about collecting dots but rather about connecting them …. It’s our experimental lab: a place where kids and adults can take risks and experiment with new ways of doing school … where educational research can be played with and developed into programs that not only impact students but also provide “road maps” for teachers: “This is what innovation looks like … how it engages students … and how you can implement facets of it in your own classroom.” — Gino Bondi, LearningtheNow


A group of Vancouver secondary teacher-librarians spent three years meeting to share information and ideas about their Library Learning Commons experiences. Teacher Inquiry provided the meeting time and supported their transformational processes. Narratives from BC teacher-librarians around the province have put invaluable depth into this document.

We started an LLC Student Advisory. This group provides student PROGRAM: THE PRIORITY IS perspectives on improvements we can make; they maintain the Learning Commons Facebook page, write about the LLC for the ACCESS BY PAT PARUNGAO school newspaper, etc. At the time of the inquiry, Pat, formerly BCTLA President and a Vancouver School Board TL Consultant, was an experienced TL at We have created curriculum-based online surveys. We next plan a mid-size East Van secondary school. Pat’s then-TL partner Hilary to seek student input on various aspects of our LLC program and Montroy is also experienced; she has a particular interest in new involve them as technology support for students and staff who technologies and the Virtual Learning Commons. want to learn how to use the Smartboard or programs like Notebook, BitStrips, EasyBib, VoiceThread, iMovie, and more. The secondary library that I transferred to seven years ago had a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. There are comfy chairs as you 2. BETTER VIRTUAL AND enter. I was told by the outgoing TL that the library was “half-way TECHNOLOGICAL ACCESS between the office and the counselling suite” – that is, not just in When I arrived, the library website had not been updated for some physical terms but also in philosophical ones as well. Students, from time. It had both wonderful information but also some that was popular academic to marginalized, felt comfortable coming to the dated. Hilary created a new website and regularly maintains it with, library. Access was in many ways already established. for example, a booking calendar so teachers can check availability; At that time, two classes could be readily accommodated during collaboratively developed projects, often including instruction, the same period, and classroom teachers were accustomed to handouts, resource lists and links; and tutorials, like how to use collaborating with the teacher-librarian. Technology included a few online citation maker EasyBib, posted on YouTube. laptops, a digital camera, 18 desktop computers for student use, Occasionally we limit access to teachers-only sections, like our and two audio-visual carts, each with a projector, computer and discussion blog that supports an all-staff fiction book club; we are speakers. How lucky I was to work in such a school library! also careful to protect the privacy and intellectual property rights of When our district TL Consultant held the annual TL Spring Update teachers and students. session at the Chapman Learning Commons in the Irving K. Barber There are now thirty desktop computers; every student in a class Learning Centre and the following year at the Simon Fraser University can have a computer. Available as well is wireless access and more Student Learning Commons, we discovered new directions for technology, like a Smartboard, document camera, Kobo e-readers, libraries that could be applied to secondary schools. I followed up and iPads on a cart. We also encourage students to use their own by interviewing librarians at both UBC and SFU and learned that electronic devices. students and users were involved in the decision-making; each site had increased virtual access and had changed the physical space 3. CHANGE OF THE PHYSICAL SPACE to be more flexible. To increase space for students to use, the collections’ footprint was sufficiently reduced by weeding and by removing some of our tall I am fortunate that my TL partner has also completely embraced fixed shelving or stacks. In place of these are now are seven tables, the concept of a Learning Commons; together, we have made the enough seating space to accommodate a third class. And, with following improvements: improved sightlines, the LLC looks brighter and more open. New task 1. STUDENT INVOLVEMENT chairs have casters and our wish list includes tables with casters so Staff and student suggestions for books are encouraged; we actively that furniture can be easily moved to respond to the needs of various encourage their submitting requests in writing. When the book arrives, groupings of users. We encourage students to use the seminar room; the “requesting” person is always called to be the first to borrow it. We we plan to create a “green room” filming station there as well. try to acquire and process the books as quickly as possible so everyone The concept of the LLC is neither static nor complete. I envision knows that we are responsive to their suggestions. its future as continuing to be user-focussed and responsive to educational and technological changes.

20 FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY TO LIBRARY LEARNING COMMONS: A PRO·ACTIVE MODEL FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE 3. COLLABORATION THREE Cs THAT CREATE AN Collaboration is the hardest aspect of a new LC program to fully EFFECTIVE LC PROGRAM BY realize. At this stage, the TL really needs to be seen as being open, non-judgmental, and good-humoured! MICHELLE HALL In working with my colleagues, I might suggest ideas for projects Michelle is an experienced Home Economics teacher who has worked or ask if I can help with a project. I offer to do the typing of a in both secondary school and elementary school libraries. She is a TL new assignment, create a rubric for that assignment, and do the at a secondary school in Surrey, BC. photocopying before a class arrives, anything that reduces the Yup, the name Learning Commons is a bit of a mouthful, so for workload for classroom teachers and makes collaborating more simplicity’s sake, we have been referring to it as the LC. My Vice- inviting (they all love free clicks, that’s for sure)! Another service I Principal tells me that in his day that stood for the “Liquor Control offer my teachers is the opportunity to collaborate with each other Branch”. That gave me a good laugh, but the word “control” is what while I teach two classes at once. For example, I have taught a three- it’s all about—letting go of your need to control, going with the flow, week cycle of research and study skills to the Grade 8s, freeing up listening to the consumer, and being a great sales person and TL. their teachers to collaborate. I then introduced these blocks to their Before you can transform a traditional secondary school library into a Passion Projects and the teachers joined in to monitor and finish the Library Learning Commons, you have to consider two things: are you projects with the students. Both services are valued and appreciated are willing to create open and flexible spaces, and are you willing to by my staff (especially since we are in the first year of becoming an have an open and flexible mind? IB-Middle Years Program school). As my principal always reminds me, “You’re a teacher first, librarian second—and that’s how our The library at our school is a really large piece of real estate, too large staff sees you”. not to be used to its fullest potential. We are all to blame if our libraries haven’t become the heart and hub of the school. Over the years we So my role as a teacher-librarian is indeed multifaceted. It really is have ignored them and gone with the status quo. We have treated them about relationships with our staff, students, and parents. My advice? like a sanctuary for those few readers and academics who haunt them Don’t be afraid to throw things out, open up your doors, make some in silence. But...I’m lucky enough to work in a school, and in a school noise, make mistakes, and make a mess! Jump in with both feet, district, that is bubbling over with support for change in our libraries. embrace it, believe it, promote it, and go visit other schools that can inspire you and give you great ideas! I spent some time with the SO WHAT ARE THE 3Cs OF THE LC? incredible Angela Monk from Fraser Heights Secondary. Angela has had a thriving LLC for years now, and she knows how to make one COMMUNICATION—COORDINATION— rock! COLLABORATION More advice? Get the Admin on your side! I worked closely with my 1. COMMUNICATION Admin Team; they were my biggest cheerleaders, and their financial I make it a point to communicate with my staff at every opportunity. support was instrumental in the physical transformation of our I make myself open, accessible, and approachable. Whether it’s my space. This transformation was a LOT of work both physically and weekly emailed Google calendar, app recommendations, book talks/ emotionally, but it’s worth it when you see that this is where everyone book recommendations, lesson ideas, Twitter activities, Pinterest, wants to be—sharing and learning together. blog posts, or LC reports at staff meetings—I share, share, share. That includes sharing with students as well as via Twitter, the Learning Commons Facebook page, my Readers’ Café blog, bulletin boards, contests, celebrations, special guests, activities, and A DISTRICT-SUPPORTED announcements. Communication and sharing is so important in creating a feeling of shared ownership of the space and the program. LLC PROJECT: SAANICH 2. COORDINATION BY AARON MUELLER I make myself available to help coordinate and facilitate events. Aaron is an experienced TL and cybrarian who, at the time of the For example, I help plan lessons with feeder schools, bring in guest inquiry, was new to a small-to-midsize secondary school in Saanich. presenters, and arrange Skype opportunities. I enrich the learning The school was just completing the major transformation of its environment of the school and offer my services any way I can. That school library to an LLC. extends to sponsoring clubs that meet in the LC after school such The former TL at my new school began the transformation to a as: economics club, peer tutoring, and the Readers’ Cafe. I also try Library Learning Commons last year with program evolution, physical to offer fun activities at lunch a few times each year. Activities renovations, and purchases of furniture and technology. The school I’ve organized include: bookmark bingo, book pong tournaments, district provided Innovation Grants that enabled all secondary and friendship bracelet tutorials, book trailer bonanza, and I recently did middle school libraries to adapt their spaces, furniture, programs, and a session on making lip gloss with 16 girls— that was fun! resources to meet the needs of a 21st century Library Learning Commons.

BRITISH COLUMBIA TEACHER-LIBRARIANS’ ASSOCIATION 21 The old tables, chairs and some shelves were replaced by new comfy chairs and loveseats; these were strategically located to create quiet THE DISTRICT LLC PROJECT: alcoves for reading and to frame other more central spaces as well. Our new tables can be folded and stacked away, opening up the PRINCE GEORGE entire space for new configurations. Some hefty weeding also cleared BY RHEA WOOLGAR space for new resources and new learning activities. In addition, we Rhea is an experienced English teacher and TL at a mid-size have created a production room or “makerspace” where we produce secondary school in Prince George, BC. She has also been a District videos, podcasts, and digital artifacts, and we can build computers Learning Commons Liaison. and play with new equipment, as well as teach and learn new skills from each other. In September 2013 I inherited a well-stocked, traditional school library. I had spent the previous year on temporary assignment The old library security system was removed, helping to create a replacing a TL on leave; during my time there, the school library had culture of trust and to enable smooth access to our . come up for renovation. Although it was intimidating to renovate We expanded our Wi-Fi infrastructure to give access to more devices another TL’s space, it was an awesome experience in collaboration and equipment. There are strategically placed charging stations, and purposeful design. enabling students to replenish their devices as needed. I brought the insights and skills of that experience into my new The school has also recently acquired a set of 30 Linux laptops to school where the support of the administration in undertaking the complement our 30 desktops in the Library Learning Commons. The transition from library to an LLC has been significant. When I was Linux platform allows us to enable profiles that provide students hired for the position, I requested summer project funding to set up with access to their files, bookmarks, and documents from school, a Virtual Learning Commons (VLC) to allow students 24/7 access and from home. We have complemented this technology with Kobo to district-purchased databases and e-resources. I used LibGuides e-readers, Apple and Android tablets, document cameras, digital as the format and developed a menu of research and information video cameras, digital still cameras, music players, charging cables, literacy skills for students to use as they accessed resources within dongles and many types of memory, cabling, connections, and other the LLC. helpful “bits” that enable technology integration. We have added a “smart” TV that connects to our network and is able to display wirelessly, sharing photos and announcements. One important CHANGING ATMOSPHERE evolution in our program and district was to enable a new District- When school began in September, I wanted the word to get out that wide Learning Commons website template, one that is consistent our school’s learning commons was “not your Grandma’s library”. across schools, and shares our projects, documents, links, and The first tangible thing I did was remove the “Ø” signs, like “No food resources. This collaborative project was enabled by the district or beverages” and “No hats”. Every block I searched for students to to get all TLs working together to build a useful, consistent and invite to come and work in the library. I put a tub of Lego on a table valuable template for all Library Learning Commons in every school. and a jigsaw puzzle on another. Slowly students began to choose the Program-wise, the new Library Learning Commons has been able to LLC as a place to come to work, to learn, and even to play. I wanted implement many digital resources, databases, and learning activities staff and students to know that the library was their learning space. utilizing our new technologies, equipment and spaces. We have had almost all faculties and courses come to learn, research, inquire, CHANGING SPACE produce, and present their learning. We have housed hundreds of As the library began to get busier, it was apparent that the space students during entire-grade presentations. We have hosted poetry would have to change to make room for additional classes and readings, parent information nights, after school clubs, tutorials, groups of students. And so we weeded. The library technician at our and meetings. We have also implemented a new online booking District Learning Commons (DLC) gave me a list of all resources calendar so that subject teachers can check and book time in the that had not been used or signed out in five years. Reducing the size Learning Commons from anywhere. of our collection by about 10% freed up enough room to have an Overall, its been very exciting and empowering to be a part of additional class in the library. We condensed our non-fiction section this transformation, supporting our school’s students, staff, and and placed our newly refreshed fiction section on the wall. The books community with our new design. We have created a buzz in the school looked (and smelled) so much better, and students could more easily and district, showcasing much of what can be achieved through this find what they wanted. Staff or students’ fears that a favourite book thoughtful and supported transformation. would be weeded or their concerns that out-of-date books should be kept, “just in case”, were perfect opportunities to demonstrate how databases and e-resources could be used for the same or better information.

22 FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY TO LIBRARY LEARNING COMMONS: A PRO·ACTIVE MODEL FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE CHANGING TRADITIONS MOVING FORWARD Throughout the process of changing the atmosphere and space in the As we expand our uses of both the virtual and physical spaces, library, the library clerk and I worked to change how the library was BC’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act (FIPPA) regarded by staff. Instead of being a curricular add-on, we wanted has remained a challenge. Our province’s response to FIPPA as it to become an integral part of teachers’ course planning. We decided affects learning opportunities for students has been slow. We are that, in response to any request by staff, our goal was to “get to challenged by knowing better, but not being able to do better. I have yes”. We found ways to fit extra classes into the space; we travelled found that working with the DLC team has helped bring some clarity out to classes to renew and sign out books; I gave booktalks wherever to how to address FIPPA. I am looking forward to having a FIPPA we could fit them in. “permissions” document that has been legally evaluated for use with students, staff, and parents. We tried to anticipate and plan in advance for the needs of our staff. At Christmas we hosted a reindeer games activity for our grade 8s and, during the Olympics, we streamed the Canadian Women’s ASSESSMENT AND REFLECTION Hockey games into the LLC. Our goal? Whenever something was It is difficult to get descriptive feedback to inform and improve our happening in the school, the learning commons would be involved. practice. I want feedback that is meaningful and effective, to keep a It was also important to begin to change how students used the focus on the work that I am doing and the program I am developing. resources in the space, to get past the traditional research, the I have invited my administrator and selected colleagues to give me hunt-and-gather approach to information retrieval, or “Bird Units”, feedback. In taking my own measure of the program, I assess my own as we called them. We developed LibGuides to help frame LLC or answers to the following questions, adapted from Colorado’s Highly inquiry projects, framing each project or assignment with a big Effective School Library Programs: question that pushed students to deeper and more meaningful How does the TL show direct evidence of: learning. Thus far, it has been a successful re-design of our role • Meaningful integration of 21st century skills into the in the teaching and learning that takes place in our school. library program? I have worked with several teachers to meaningfully incorporate • Leadership within and outside the school? technology and collaboration into teaching this year. After attending the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) summit in Kamloops, several • Impact on student achievement within the school? Grade 8 classes have used Google Docs for collaborative work. • A collaborative environment where students have the instruction Another group evaluated, edited and used YouTube videos to teach they need to be college- and career-ready? their classmates about a scientific concept. One afternoon a class learning about gladiators took a Google Earth Walking Tour of the • A culture of collaboration that includes the teacher-librarian in Roman Colosseum with me. instruction, leadership decisions, and the provision of digital literacy instruction for staff and students? Recently, several teachers and I met to discuss the digital literacy skills our students needed to acquire by graduation. Students • The creation of programs, aligned with school and district goals, have such vast differences in technological abilities, so setting that encourage student involvement in community, cultural or aside the notion of a “scope and sequence” as being unrealistic global initiatives? in today’s learning, we set our sights on students having strong • Demonstrated differentiation to meet the learning needs of basic technology skills that enable them to learn to use any new all students? technologies for their own inquiries, now and in the future. • Work in helping teachers with student assessment? We received support from PAC funding to expand our games/ makerspace collection. I am excited to see the power of gamification • Purposeful lesson design that creates lifelong learning to enhance learning. We purchased a class set of the game “Settlers opportunities? of Catan”. Using this game, Grade 8 teachers and I have planned a It was after the transformation of our secondary school library in series of lessons about how civilizations develop. We recruited four of Prince George that I was seconded one day a week as a District our keenest teachers to help us and the library hosted a “Settlers of Learning Commons Liaison. In that position, I worked with other Catan” tournament. Students wrote about what they had learned in TLs as they transformed their school libraries to LLCs. playing the game, about the rise and fall of civilizations.

BRITISH COLUMBIA TEACHER-LIBRARIANS’ ASSOCIATION 23 I find myself thinking about time. We have many grand ideas. We LIBRARY AS EVOLUTIONARY are there; we have changed our mindset. The fact remains, however, that we are very confined by our infrastructure, particularly with PROCESS: TL “IN BETA” respect to time. In a school day that is defined by rigid blocks of BY MARTHA CAMERON time, a semester that is defined by weeks, an assessment system that requires “marks”, and an “old order” challenging a new one, Martha, an experienced TL, has worked in her large Surrey secondary time becomes a huge issue. At the very least, we need to teach our school for many years; she is a lead TL in the BC movement to LLCs. students that the time constraints they currently work within will, Several times a year, we are invited to get together with other district one day soon, not exist. teacher-librarians who are on the same Library Learning Commons So our evolution continues … the good news is that the Library journey. These are such valuable opportunities to share information, Learning Commons is packed with kids and all our users seem to be experiences, practices, and plans. These meetings also have given willing to help in the process. The best evidence that change is afoot me a chance to reflect on where we’ve been, and where we are going was demonstrated recently when, on the Friday before Thanksgiving at my school library, now a Library Learning Commons. long weekend, I couldn’t get the students to go home! This is what we have accomplished so far. Fourteen or so months ago, our space changed dramatically. We removed a “forest” of stacks and a mother-ship of a circulation desk. In so doing, we completely—and thankfully—changed the tone of the library. We went from a “We’re WHEN INFRASTRUCTURE smart and we’re in control” place to more of a “This is your space to accomplish what you need to accomplish” place. ANTICIPATES PROGRAM The change of space allowed for some quite unpredictable BY MOIRA EKDAHL possibilities, including a concert series that takes place in the Moira is an experienced, award-winning TL who at the time of library, called Music4Lunch, where our school bands and choirs the inquiry, had been working in a mid-sized South Vancouver perform once a month. high school learning commons for three years. Janice Smith, an experienced TL, was a key partner in the process of developing the The soft furnishings have also facilitated new kinds of collaboration facility and the program. and interaction. I was hired at my present school as a Learning Commons Specialist. I have worked hard to create a greater web presence, “flipping” My administrator, excited about the LLC project as a dimension of the library so that all our resources are available to our whole the school’s technology-enriched vision of learning, had secured community, all the time. a generous community donation and the PAC was committed to Some issues are straightforward and relatively easy to accomplish, supporting it as well. but the job is, of course, never done. Here is what I am working on: Our LC Design Team (the principal, two TLs, an Art and a Technology • A meeting space with a whiteboard wall; when I paint the teacher) began to create a whole new kind of learning environment. existing cupboards with IdeaPaint, we will also have a quiet On the plus side, the LLC would be well located, across from the space for students to work in, which is something we are short school office and near the front door, at the “hub” of things. The vast of at the moment. space had four instructional areas and various adjoining rooms. On the minus side, the facility had been added to the school in the • More student involvement in the creation of the vision of this 1950s and had bunker-like “Cold War Architecture”, with no natural Library Learning Commons. light, except at the back, from two narrow 2-inch windows in a set of • Facilitation of connections for both students and teachers: double EXIT doors expressly not be used to EXIT. Old technology clung I ask myself, “How can we facilitate connections now and in the like after-thoughts to the room’s large support posts. future, connections that are powerful, engaging, thoughtful, We developed the plan for renovations: move and re-organize the and life-changing, connections that will continue to empower entire collection; re-paint and re-wire some areas for technological them to succeed throughout their lives?”. upgrades; remove a “forest” of spinners, some of the seismically • A battery of mini-lessons, to be called “You Are The Library: secured “stacks”, and all of the rarely used study carrels filling Enabling Students To Take Advantage Of Life’s Opportunities”: an entire teaching area; uninstall (and consider eliminating) the my goal is to equip our students with a whole host of tools, and security system. more importantly, an attitude that will make all this possible.

24 FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY TO LIBRARY LEARNING COMMONS: A PRO·ACTIVE MODEL FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE First we would construct the space; our trades built: Re-design had incorporated simple principles that would put “new light” on the role of the school library in teaching and learning: new • A new counter in an upper area that overlooks everything; open sightlines, bright new furnishings that enable flexible use of with stools, it has become a favourite work area. space; reduced collection footprint; new paint, wiring, and custom- • New low movable book shelves that would delineate our fiction built fittings; large-scale technology installations; a sense of the and quiet reading area but be easily moved to accommodate invitation to learn. Re-design anticipated building the LLC’s capacity large groups (up to 100). to enhance teaching and learning within the school. In the district, • A compact circulation desk that has clear sightlines. we are also well situated to be a “hub” for professional development about LLCs, technology integration, and shifting pedagogy. • A bar-height L-shaped counter with high stools; our 10 PC screens are always visible and in use from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm; I knew that building the space before the program was risky—as­ we envision this counter as having high stools on both sides for form best follows function, you unquestionably need to build on the collaborating with technology. firm foundations of a strong, dynamic, and responsive program. My TL partner Janice Smith and I continue to work together to create • Cabinetry in three instructional areas for mini-Macs and audio- new partnerships and build the culture of collaboration; we are three visual systems that enable projection to interactive whiteboards; years into what my “TL Inquiry” colleagues have suggested will be a in our Innovation Centre, projection to a whole-wall screen is a five-year building process. We knew the kids would get it! frequently requested performance area with surround sound. Our school’s LLC has garnered attention from administrators, Today there are four kinds of spaces: quieter, more comfortable management, and teacher-librarians across ; many reading and study areas; an informal café-style reading/learning interested visitors from Metro, provincial, out-of-province, Ministry, space; smaller rooms that can accommodate multi-media and district locations, as well as school-based educators have come production, storage, work, meetings, or “making things”; and to our LLC. In our district, new seismic reconstruction has attracted large teaching areas, including the Innovative Teaching Centre architects and district managers to our LLC. Within the Vancouver and the Collaborative Centre. Students access our technology School Board, many have looked to our LLC as a model project, a (20 Chromebooks, 10 Dell laptops, and 10 mini-iPads) from what source of ideas, advice, and impetus. had been the magazine/school archives storage room. The multi- use “green room” has 3 iMacs. In setting out to transform a very large space that suffered from under-investment and under-utilization, our Design Team Wi-Fi is enhanced at our school as we also house the district’s virtual intended that both the space and the program it housed would learning school. Students and visitors readily use their own devices see a significant overhaul; the new LLC would generate a program in our LC. We have comfy chairs—donations from a renovating that would attract new users, build new relationships, and coffee enterprise known for its comfortable seating—as well as ultimately reach beyond its own walls, into classrooms, homes, and custom chairs and ottomans. Our Collaborative Centre has “wheely” communities, local and beyond. Across the district, VSB teacher- chairs and tables that enable us to respond quickly to users’ learning librarians have come to consider new technologies, furnishings, needs; the key to the appeal of this area for teaching and learning fittings, and principles with which to “grow” their own LLCs. is its lightness and colour. We have eliminated “Ø” signage that announced THE RULES. When the doors of the new LLC opened in October 2012, students knew instantly what to do—work, read, learn together. With the “soft opening”, students began to discover the significant investment in their learning; the old windowless school library had become a bright and welcoming space. Our students are very respectful of the space. Said one girl when asking her teacher to bring the class in again, “It is perfect because it is so studious”. Another student, asked what she thought about the new plastic “infinity bench” that lights up and serves as a coffee table or bench, said, “It attracts kids”. I like to have a feature “piece” that represents “the invitation” to learn. In the strange bench, I see the light at the heart of the school and our program. Our LLC program begins when the doors open in the morning and closes when we leave at the end of the day; it includes breaks, lunch, and all uses between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. Of course, any after-hour use of the 24/7 district resources or of the space for events or meetings is a real or virtual extension of our program.

BRITISH COLUMBIA TEACHER-LIBRARIANS’ ASSOCIATION 25 • We tried to collaborate in the library with someone from every IT ALL STARTS WITH THE department. We anticipated that colleagues who came to work with us would favourably discuss their experiences with other PROFESSIONALS members of their departments. BY JOAN MUIR • We got involved with the school community in such initiatives Joan is an experienced TL who has worked in both elementary and as Canada Sings! and Teacher Inquiry. secondary school libraries. Her present west side school is one of • We created professional development gatherings for several Vancouver’s larger schools. Her TL partner Stephanie Lemmon also departments in the library to support their particular teaching works half-time as a science teacher at the same school. knowledge and to stimulate cross-curricular discussions. When my partner, a new teacher-librarian, and I arrived to start our • We created a staff reading club that met regularly. Some who work together at a school, we found a facility that was little used. have since left the school still come back for our meetings. The staff rarely came in. It will never have a “hub” location…you have to follow signs and know where you are going to find our school • We moved to leadership roles within the school by organizing library. It is a difficult space in some ways, having two floors on three and chairing the technology committee. levels. As well, secondary schools are divided into departments; • When it looked as though the Social Committee was going to fall the divisiveness is another hurdle to overcome. But it is one of the apart, we stepped up. We created a climate of enjoyment and largest school libraries in the city; it has some beautiful bright inclusion that enhanced the school culture. spaces; we discovered a staff that was open to new things and very welcoming; the school is very centrally located and easily accessed • We have continued to build the academic standards of units in Vancouver. and to bring unusual events for staff and students, such as the “Human Library”. It became abundantly clear to me that we were going to have to market our expertise. We needed to be a “location of choice” in our • We created student clubs such as Library Monitors, the Students own building. Our primary goal that first year was to build strong Read Book Club and Writers in the Making Club (a poetry writing relationships with individual teachers, administration, student club). teachers, the parent community, and students. Our main focus By the end of our first year, we had was the teaching staff. We sought to build relationships which were professional, educationally supportive, and recognizably • More than doubled our circulation. valued by each teacher. We provided sound service and expertise. • Involved all but three departments in class bookings. As we were both new to the school, our initial communications • Watched the “gate count” go through the roof. with staff began at a respectful distance, but: The library became THE new place to work, learn, and socialize. • We never missed a chance to make announcements in It was clear that the program and the facility had become a staff meetings, at meetings of department heads, and significant entity for all members of the school community. staff committee. Over the last few years, I have worked with the Admin Team on the • We focused on other communications, like daily bulletins, Finance and Interviewing committees. With our sustained efforts in pamphlets, and emails. jump-starting the school library program and the visible impact of • We kept our communications concise and well-crafted to get the lively program on the school, our administrator, about to retire, across information that we knew would capture their interest decided to invest in renovating the library to turn it into a Library and/or be very useful. Learning Commons. The awkward school library that we had found just a few years ago is now a lively and beautiful space – and a Here is what else we committed to: “location of choice” for district events. • We asked to be invited to department meetings where we could We had started in the right place; the foundation to our program’s offer educational support, resources, and technology. success was the time and effort placed on building professional and strong relationships with our school staff.


Some BC school districts are excellent examples of support for and implementation of the Pro-Active transformational model that builds on the work of the TL (professional capital) and the school library program. Compare the Surrey and Prince George district LLC projects with the important ways, described by Aaron Mueller, that the Saanich district has enabled LLC projects initiated by the Saanich Teacher-Librarians’ Association. For a BC school district LLC policy example, see Kamloops/Thompson District #73. SURREY SCHOOL DISTRICT PRINCE GEORGE SCHOOL #36: LLCS AS A DISTRICT DISTRICT #57: LIBRARY INNOVATIVE LEARNING LEARNING COMMONS AS DESIGN PROJECT INNOVATIVE LEARNING BY SARAH GUILMANT-SMITH DESIGN PROJECTS Sarah and Lisa Domeier de Suarez are TLs whose work at the district BY MONICA BERRA level in Surrey facilitated the development of LLCs as important components of their district’s support for school-based innovative Monica is the District Vice-Principal, Learning Innovations for learning design projects. Learning Commons. The Surrey School District’s three-year support plan for school- [NOTE: The following is adapted from “Building a District Learning Commons— SD #57,” by M. Berra. CLA Conference: Treasure Mountain Canada 3, Victoria, based innovative learning design projects included a strong focus BC. May 30, 2014. Web.] on Library Learning Commons. By 2014, district funding, targeted mostly to technology hardware and furnishings, but including THE TEAM’S VISION STATEMENT ongoing staff development, had been extended to 18 secondary We are collectively combining our creativity, knowledge, and expertise sites and 18 elementary sites, or nearly one-quarter of schools in to create a Library Learning Commons to meet the diverse needs of BC’s largest school district. all learners. While each school community is at its own point on the program development continuum, the District priority has been to develop BUILDING THE DISTRICT LEARNING broad-based, shared understandings about the kinds of best practices outlined in this document, specifically about: COMMONS The District began the project by creating four new leadership positions • Opening up timetables to the greatest extent possible. for LLCs; with a focus on student learning, the District Vice-Principal and • Creating “flexible” spaces with adaptable furnishings. three 0.2 FTE District LC Liaison Teachers would build the foundations and support schools with the transition of school libraries to LLCs. With st • Providing 21 century technologies and promoting responsible a Learning Team Grant, the Team would optimize its own professional digital citizenship. capital: they would share expertise in inquiry, digital literacy and • Fostering climates of collaborative inquiry. citizenship, and technology. • Facilitating side-by-side learning and teaching opportunities. Systemic change, they knew, takes time, practice, commitment, and an open mindset. Real change happens after the initial excitement • Curating diverse collections representing a variety of and confusion at the outset of such a project; it is a complex process information formats. of moving forward based on changing how we think about and respond • Acknowledging the central role of the teacher-librarian as an within learning environments. In addition to understanding how change educational leader and as the key coordinator of the Library happens in a system, the Team was guided by four foundational principles: Learning Commons. • CONTINUOUS INQUIRY requires risk and is experimental. • LEARNING COLLABORATIVELY is not the same as cooperation; conflict will occur. • REFLECTIVE PRACTICE guides future practice. • LEARNING by doing is essential.














Within the busy school and wider educational and local communities, the strong school library program is the hub of learning; the TL, in creating a strong program, puts “learning” into Library Learning Commons.


American Association of School Librarians. Standards for the 21st- Loertscher, David V., and Valerie Diggs. “From Library to Learning Century Learner in Action. Chicago: AASL, 2009. Commons: A Metamorphosis.” Teacher Librarian 36.4 (2009): 32-38. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. BC Teachers’ Federation. Members’ Guide. Vancouver, BC: BCTF, 2017. Loertscher, David V., and Carol Koechlin. “The Virtual Learning Commons Brownlie, F. and J. King. Learning In Safe Schools. Markham, ON: and School Improvement.” Teacher Librarian 39.6 (2012): 20-24. Pembroke, 2011. Print. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Colorado Department of Education. “Principal Talking Points for Highly Loertscher, David V., and Carol Koechlin. “Theory and Research as the Effective School Library Program.” Colorado’s Highly Effective School Foundational Elements of a Learning Commons.” Teacher Librarian 39.3 Library Programs: An Evaluative Rubric for 21st-Century Colorado School (2012):48-51. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Librarians and their Library Programs. Colorado: State Library, 2013 (Revised). Web. 15 May 2014. Loertscher, David V., and Carol Koechlin. “Dear Teachers: The Learning Commons of the Future of Learning.” Teacher Librarian 39.4 (2012): 51- Forgeron, J.M., J. Muir, M. Ekdahl, P. Parungao, S. Pearson, and V. Lam. 54. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Library Learning Commons: A Secondary Perspective. Vancouver, BC: Vancouver School Board, 2014. Loertscher, David V., Carol Koechlin, and Sandi Zwaan. The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win! Reinventing School Libraries and Gauntley, T. “Learning Commons Episode 9: Two Questions About Computer Labs. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow, 2008. Print. Sharing.” Tim Gauntley: Resourceful Curriculum for 21st Century Learning in Classrooms and Libraries. 28 Nov. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. Lankes, R.D. “Keynote Address.” The Inspiration Summit. Vancouver Wall Centre, 2014 Dec,7. as cited in M. Ekdahl, TLSpecial Weekly Report 2013 Harada, V. “Empowered Learning: Fostering Thinking Across the Jan. 28. Blog. Curriculum.” Curriculum Connections: Through the Library. B. Stripling and S. Hughes-Hassell, Eds. 41-65. London: Libraries Unlimited, 2003. McGregor, J. “Collaboration and Leadership.” Curriculum Connections: Print. Through the Library. B. Stripling and S. Hughes-Hassell, Eds. 199-219. London: Libraries Unlimited, 2003. Print. Hargreaves, A. and M. Fullan. Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. New York: Teachers College Press, 2013. Print. Ontario School Library Association. Together for Learning: School Libraries and The Emergence of the Learning Commons. Toronto: OLA, Hargreaves, A. and D. Shirley. The Fourth Way: The Inspiring Future for 2010. Web. April, 2014. Educational Change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2009. Print. Rheingold, H. “Participatory Media: A Literacy in Infancy.” Interview. In Harland, P.C. The Learning Commons: Seven Simple Steps to Transform R. Lindstrom. Literacy 2.0. Blog. Web. 2012 Sept. 24. Your Library. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited An Inprint of ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print. Rheingold, H. Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2014. Print. Howe, H. “On Libraries and Learning.” School Library Journal. 13. Feb. 1967. Abilene University Quote Archive. Web. May 15, 2014. Stripling, B. “Inquiry-based Learning.” Curriculum Connections Through the Library. B. Stripling and S. Hughes-Hassell, Eds. 3-39. London: Johnson, L., S. Adams Becker, M. Cummins, V. Estrada, A. Freeman, and Libraries Unlimited, 2003. Print. H. Ludgate. NMC Horizon Report: 2013 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: New Media Consortium, 2013. Thomas, Sue. “Transliteracy.” Sue Thomas. n.d. Blog. Web. 15 May 2014. Kachel, D.E. School Library Research Summarized: A Graduate Class Vancouver Teachers’ Federation. “Teacher-Librarian.” Collective Project. Mansfield, PA: Mansfield University, 2013. Web. 18 May 2014. Agreement. Vancouver, BC: VTF, 2014. Koechlin, C, E. Rosenfeld, and D.V. Loertscher. Building A Learning White, Bruce. “Towards a Learning Commons: My Journey: Your Journey.” Commons: A Guide for School Administrators and Learning Leadership Teacher Librarian 38.3 (2011): 27-30. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Teams. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Research and Publishing, 2010. Print. Apr. 2013. Koechlin, Carol, Sandi Zwaan, and David V. Loertscher. “The Time is Zubke, S., C. Brogan, K. Chow, M. Farquharson, C. Weichel, and A. Wong. Now: Transform Your School Library into a Learning Commons.” Teacher Elementary Teacher-Librarians’ Inquiry Group Report. Vancouver, BC: Librarian 36.1 (2008): 814. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Vancouver School Board, 2013. Web. Loertscher, David V. “Flip This Library: School Libraries Need a Revolution, Not Evolution.” Teacher Librarian 54.11 (2008): 46-48. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.


SOCIAL MEDIA – BLOGS, TWITTER, AND READ THESE! MORE: FOUNDATIONAL BOOKS AND ONLINE Bondi, Gino. “The Why Behind a School’s Learning Commons” and “Our Learning Commons: One How-To for 21st C Learning.” LearningtheNow. READINGS 2012. Web. Canadian School Libraries. Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for Kennedy, Chris. “My Take on Librarians” and “The Learning Commons Effective School Library Learning Commons in Canada. 2017. Web. Mindset.” The Culture of Yes. 2012 and 2015. Web. Diggs, Valerie. “From Library to Learning Commons.” Chelmsford, MA: Chelmsford High School, n.d. Sllideshare. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. LOOK AT THESE! Ekdahl, M., M. Farquharson, J. Robinson, and L. Turner. Points of Inquiry: A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st C Learner. Vancouver, CHECK OUT THESE VIDEOS AND BC: British Columbia Teachers’ Association, 2010. Web. VIRTUAL LLCS Hamilton, Buffy J. “Creating Conversations For Learning: School Libraries Johnston Heights Learning Commons: TL Michele Hall’s Virtual Tour of As Sites Of Participatory Culture.” School Library Monthly 27.8 (2011): JHSS Learning Commons, Surrey School District #36 41-43. Academic Search Premier. Web. Innovation and School Libraries Pecha Kucha: (7 Dec 2012) Gino Bondi Hayes, T. “Library to Learning Commons: A Recipe For Success.” at The Changing Times, Inspiring Libraries Summit. Education Canada 54(3). Web. “I’ll Fight You for the Library” performed by Taylor Mali Hargreaves, Andy, and Michael Fullan. Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. New York: Teachers College The Learning Commons in BC: BC Libraries (2012) Press, 2012. Print. Library to Learning Commons: Saanich SD #63, BC (2014) International Federation of Library Associations. IFLA School Library The Power of Reading: Dr Stephen Krashen, University of Georgia COE Guidelines. 2nd ed. The Hague: IFLA, 2015. Web. Lecture Series (April, 2012) Koechlin, C, E. Rosenfeld, and D.V. Loertscher. Building a Learning Commons: A Guide for School Administrators and Learning Leadership VIRTUAL LEARNING COMMONS: A SAMPLER Teams. A Whole School Approach to Learning for the Future. Salt Lake BCTLA Learning Commons Summer Institute (2012): resource page City, UH: Hi Willow, 2010. Print. Fraser Heights Library Learning Commons, Surrey, BC. Loertscher, D.V., C. Koechlin, and S. Zwaan. The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win! Reinventing School Libraries and Computer Labs Gladstone Secondary School’s Virtual Learning Commons: VSB. (2nd ed.) Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow, 2011. Print. Hamilton, Buffy J. The Unquiet Library, The Unquiet Librarian. McVittie, C. “K-12 Learning Commons.” ETEC510: Design Wiki. Hastings Elementary School Library: VSB. TL: Frances Renzullo-Cuzzetto Vancouver. BC: UBC Faculty of Education, 2014. Web. Mission School District 75 Elementary Learning Commons Ontario School Library Association. Together for Learning: School Magee Secondary School Learning Commons: Vancouver, BC. Libraries and The Emergence of the Learning Commons. Toronto: OLA, 2010. Web. North Surrey Secondary Library & Learning Commons People for Education. “Reading for Joy.” 2011. Web. Prince George District Learning Commons Discovery Portal Stripling, B. and S. Hughes-Hassell. Curriculum Connections Through SD45 Secondary Learning Commons the Library. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2003. Print. SD62 Virtual Learning Commons Zmuda, A. and V.H. Harada. Librarians as Learning Specialists: Meeting Springfield (Illinois)Township High School Virtual Library the Learning Imperative for the 21st Century. London: Libraries Unlimited, See also new homepage featuring LibGuides. 2008. Print. Vancouver Technical Secondary School Library: VSB.


This project was undertaken over three years with release time TEACHER-LIBRARIAN CONTRIBUTORS provided by the Vancouver School District Teacher Inquiry initiative VANCOUVER SECONDARY TLS and further support provided by the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Moira Ekdahl Association. Jann-Marie Forgeron Virginia Lam FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND OTHER Stephanie Lemmon CONTRIBUTIONS, ON BEHALF OF PROJECT Hilary Montroy PARTICIPANTS, THE EDITORS WOULD LIKE TO Joan Muir THANK: Pat Parungao VSB Associate Superintendents Dr. Valerie Overgaard (retired) and Susan Pearson Maureen Ciarniello (retired), for release time to support teacher- Yashoda Reddy librarian collaboration and Teacher Inquiry. VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY TLS BCTF Executive Committee and the BCTLA: Heather Daly, Past Celia Brogan President Karen Chow Michele Farquharson Bonnie McComb, Past President, Saanich Teacher-Librarians’ Sandra Hedley Association Cheriee Weichel Jean Prevost, Past President, Saanich Teacher-Librarians’ Association Alanna Wong Steven Cameron, then Principal at University Hill Secondary School, Sylvia Zubke Vancouver, who requested the checklist, as well as school-based and BC school district administrators and staff whose help has enabled PROVINCIAL CONTRIBUTORS the Library Learning Commons initiatives included in this document, Martha Cameron including: Monica Berra, District Vice-Principal, Prince George; Lisa Domeier de Suarez Elisa Carlson, former Director of Instruction, Surrey; and Gino Bondi, Sarah Guilmant-Smith Assistant Superintendent, Abbotsford. Michelle Hall Carol Koechlin and Dr. David V. Loertscher for their inspirational and Aaron Mueller active leadership Alan Smith Rhea Woolgar Dr. Barbara Stripling, Past President, American Libraries Association: Jeff Yasinchuk Inquiry-based Learning

DOCUMENT REVIEWERS: BC Teachers Federation: Charlie Naylor BC Teacher-Librarians Association: Executive and Members Vancouver School District


This document illustrates how, as sites of equitable access, the concept applied in a Library Learning Commons is about so much more than technology, resources, and services; it is about how a teacher-librarian envisions a space that gives form to culture, community, new and bold thinking, geography, sharing, relationships, support, and found opportunity.

The shift towards Library Learning Commons models from the traditional school library has been an evolution born of the desire to develop more access, more technological literacy, and improved scholastic and literary culture. While the model itself has been growing, many teacher-librarians were already evolving in that direction; no name change required. The Library Learning Commons is the natural “next step” in the continuum of development of supported multidimensional learning environments focused on stronger points of access and service. Declaring that a space is a Library Learning Commons is a clear and bold statement that this space, in the realm of school libraries and the faculty who manage them, is just the model best suited to supporting education in the 21st century and its new ways of teaching and learning. – Alan Smith, Kelowna, BC

“Start small”. Those were the words of wisdom that my mentor, Kelowna Secondary School teacher-librarian “extraordinaire” Al Smith, shared with me in 2006 …. [Some] minimal changes have led to a massive transformation of the physical space and environment—cue a sigh of relief from school administrators— and all with very little financial investment, just sweat equity and a dash of passion. We view the growth and development of our school library along a continuum, and while we’ve come a long way, we do recognize the need to evolve and innovate as we emerge as a learning hub in our school community. In our rural setting, with shrinking budgets and only 0.7 TL services, we have had to be creative to be effective in meeting students’ learning needs, doing more with less. We know, for example, that nearly 70% of our students live outside city limits, travelling up to two hours to school each day. To provide them with equitable access [comparable to BC students in urban areas, for example] to resources, we initiated a cooperative arrangement between the Kootenay Lake School District and the Nelson to increase our students’ access to both electronic and traditional media materials. By purchasing an “institution” card, students can order resources online and have them delivered directly to the school by the district’s courier services. In making this possible, we have shifted the school library towards the Learning Commons model, effectively increasing our “offerable” collection by 500%. BC public libraries in small communities are an important partner with LLC programs as they work collaboratively with us to support student learning. – Jeff Yasinchuk, Nelson, BC bcteacherlibrarians BRITISH COLUMBIA TEACHER-LIBRARIANS’ ASSOCIATION

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